Pittenweem Tolbooth Tower, Fife, Scotland
The tower as it stands today was built in the 1620's. It is a narrow tower with a steep spiral staircase with 1 room per floor and was used in the 1704 witch trials.
The first time I visited Pittenweem was to meet Lenny the owner of the tower. As soon as you walk in to the entrance there is an overwhelming presence that hits you and you get a charge all over your body.
I remember after coming back down the stairs from the roof balcony, we were chatting and as we approached one of the rooms I saw a floating black mass shoot straight down the stairs in front of me.
The next time we visited was with Graham Smith and John Waind. What a great session we had filming all day about the history of the tower and In the evening we started our cameras running and left with the door locked.
The cameras were only operational with 90 minutes of tape. The next morning we went back to collect the cameras and on the second floor the camera which was locked off on a stand had moved direction but sadly this was not captured on film.
If you want any Information on the tower or The Witch Trial History you can buy any of Leonards Books Including The Weem Witch.
The tolbooth building is a narrow tower with a steep spiral staircase and essentially is just one room per floor. The building was central to the 1704 witch trials. At that time, Pittenweem was a wealthy town but through misfortune had fallen on hard times. When in March 1704, Patrick Morton, a sixteen year old blacksmith fell ill and claimed he had been effected by witchcraft, the local authorities saw an opportunity to ease the financial situation. Morton named a local woman called Beatrix Laing as his tormentor and she was arrested and subsequently brought to the tolbooth for questioning. The town council at the time met in the room on the first floor, which is where she was initially taken for the charges to be put to her, but after refusing to sign a confession, she was taken to the second floor, where the torture then began. Methods commonly used were ‘walking the witch’ whereby the accused would have a rope tied around them and they would constantly be walked round the room by the guards. Though the guards would take breaks and take turns to ‘walk the witch’, the accused was not allowed to rest, received no food or water and would often be walked for days at a time. If they slowed down, they would be struck with a bat, which would often have nails driven through it to rip the flesh from their body.